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Heating & Cooling 2nd Gen Dodge Ram Heating & Cooling Problems and Questions.


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  #1  
Old 05-31-2011, 12:57 AM
elektromaniak elektromaniak is offline
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Unhappy Problem: Coolant smell from engine but no smoke or water in oil (see pics)

Hi guys,

great forum and community! I got my first dodge (99 Ram 1500 2wd 5.2L V8) last week and it wasn't in perfect shape and required some work. I just changed the rear speed sensor (followed everyone's advices) and it fixed my speedo and the ABS and brake light.

I am not a mechanic, I work in video games. However I am familiar with tuning, I also have a 300zx turbo in original like conditions.

My next Ram issue is a coolant smell from under the hood. Immediately I suspected a head gasket. But I then investigated further:
  • No water in oil (not milky or clear)
  • No oil in coolant tank
  • No white smoke when pressing the gas
  • Tested to turn on the heat inside at max to see if it would be related to the heater, but there is not any coolant smell from inside.
  • No drops on the ground
I went through every single thread regarding coolant smell issues and the plenum problems. I first thought it was the head gasket, but it may look more like a coolant loss or plenum problem.

I took several pics of the engine today, it seems to be wet in a few spots. I thought maybe those are clues to a plenum problem? Please take a look and would really appreciate your advices:

Here is a shot from the passenger of the engine. The valve cover seems leaking?


Close up of the valve cover leak.


Passenger side of engine


Where I stand here and get close, this is when I get the strongest coolant smell.


I noticed a host from the rad seems a little wet.


Hard to see on the pic, but no oil in coolant. The truck has orange coolant btw.


If you look under on the passenger, you will see that it's also wet.


This is the driver side of the engine, seems to be quite messy. Look also at the splash.


Same, but from a different angle.


Driver side of the engine, look at the valve cover on that side too.


Close up view of the driver side (valve cover)


Driver side, top shot also showing the intake kinda wet.


Driver side, intake is wet.


I would really appreciate any input. The engine has 175 000 KM and seems to be running well.

Thanks
Pat
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2011, 02:55 PM
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Hi, I'd suggest letting it get warm and while running look for a pin hole leak around the hoses near the spotting area. How many miles are on the truck? And when were the hoses last replaced?

While waiting around, how about using the link in my SIG to jump over to the Newbie Checkin and introducing yourself and throw up some photos of the truck, we'll look at the 300Z too if you put a few of those out here.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:05 PM
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To see if you have a plenum gasket problem, take off the air filter assembly, open up the throttle body, and look inside the intake manifold with a flashlight. If you see oil pooled in there, the gasket is blown. Usually you will also notice a lack of power, drop in mileage, and unexplained loss of oil as well, depending on how big of a problem you have.


As for coolant, I would take some soapy water and lightly coat the hoses with it. A leak should cause it to bubble up and be noticeable. Also check around the thermostat gasket for leaks.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:40 PM
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How much coolant & or oil are you losing ?
Is your Power Steering fluid level staying the same?

If it were me, i would warm up the vehicle a bit & then take a couple spray cans of something like CRC Engine Cleaner, ( read instructions ), they make 2 kinds, both work well, but 1 of them stinks & will give you a headache. Clean up as much dirt & oil as possible, top, sides, & underneath, then wipe down everything. This does 2 things, makes your engine compartment look better & you can see if there is a outside leak & not just a spill that someone didn't clean up. While your doing the clean up, check your hoses & belts
I believe that there is some kind of test to tell if your Plenum gasket is going bad

Looking at the images, the wet valve cover area is right under the oil fill cap
The area around the power steering pump is also near the fill cap, so both places could have just been spills or splashes.
I know this doesn't get rid of your smell problem, but, it will make it easier to find

Good Luck
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRam10 View Post
Hi, I'd suggest letting it get warm and while running look for a pin hole leak around the hoses near the spotting area. How many miles are on the truck? And when were the hoses last replaced?

While waiting around, how about using the link in my SIG to jump over to the Newbie Checkin and introducing yourself and throw up some photos of the truck, we'll look at the 300Z too if you put a few of those out here.
Thanks for the tip, the truck have 175 000KM which equal to about 109 000 miles.

I will try to snap some pics of the truck soon and post them in the Newbie section. I just installed new wheels and tires yesterday. I got the truck for cheap, mostly to carry material for the house and gardening stuff for my wife... gotta keep her busy

But the truck need some TLC, a tune-up and a major cleanup. The whole interior was covered in dog hair and smelled horrible.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:33 PM
elektromaniak elektromaniak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTyankee View Post
How much coolant & or oil are you losing ?
Is your Power Steering fluid level staying the same?
I really dont seem to be losing that much, it's hardly noticeable. I will do a line on my coolant to see exactly if it goes down.
For the oil, I was about to do an oil change. The one in the engine is past due, I was just waiting to see if it would be a gasket issue so I dont waste 50$ on oil for nothing. (Mobil1 10w30 extended perf sync and Mobil filter)

Regarding the coolant, I got some orange stuff in there. Is it compatible with the regular green coolant or I should flush the rad?

While changing my rear speed sensor and dipping my finger in the diff to oil the seal. I noticed the oil in there seems also pretty bad and low.

I use the Redline stuff in my Z for the differential and Tranny. What is recommended to use on those truck? I should probably change the rear diff and tranny oil as well.

The previous guy changed the spark plug wires, but I should probably change the plugs and at the same time look for a washed plug just to be safe (head gasket).

It needs a good engine cleanup indeed, I will have to try to find that CRC cleaner. I tried many cleaner in the past on the Z and never found a really good one.

Last edited by elektromaniak; 06-01-2011 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:35 PM
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Thanks for all the tips and advices guys. That gives me many things to investigate and check. Looks like I will have a busy upcoming weekend

Will let you know how it went,
cheers
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:50 AM
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To me, most of your pics look like normal oil leakage around valve cover gaskets and fill points. Don't trust marking the overflo bottle for your coolant level. The level in it can change. On my little daily driver, Saturn SC2, the coolant level was dead on the full mark and bright green, yet I was loosing coolant through a cracked plastic fitting on the intake. Almost drove me nuts finding it. The rad was cracked around the trans cooling line so I replaced it too. Actually, I replace every replaceable part in the cooling system. When I pulled the rad and pump every thing was filthy brown inside. For some reason the fluid in the bottle wasn't mixing with the crud in the rad. On the Saturn there is no cap on the rad, just the overflo bottle.

I guess what I'm saying is, when you filled the bottle it would fill the system, but when the system got low it didn't suck the bottle dry, and because the leak was in the plastic tubing, when it got hot the water loss was at the tube, and it never boiled back in the overflo. This made it confusing because the water in the bottle stayed nice and clean, and the rest of the system was filthy.

I know antifreeze has a very distict smell, but with all of the oil seepage around your valve covers, are you sure you're not smelling the oil burning off the exhaust maniflods. All of the "wetness" around the valve cover pics is oil, not coolant, and looks pretty normal for the milage on the truck, Joe.
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